The Sailor-Boy's Tale Historical Context

Isak Dinesen

Historical Context

Dinesen returned from Africa to Denmark in 1931. A significant historical circumstance during her lifetime was the occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany during World War II. Although Denmark maintained an official policy of neutrality at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the government capitulated to German occupation in 1940. After a show of organized resistance by the people of Denmark against Nazi occupation, the Germans took over control of the nation’s government and much of its military forces. The resistance movement was organized as the Danish Freedom Council in 1943, and in 1945, the Germans surrendered to defeat by the Allies.

Dinesen lived in the region that is now Kenya from 1914–1931 as the owner and manager of a coffee plantation. The history of this region during the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries is characterized by European colonization and exploitation of members of the tribes native to the area, such as the Massai and the Kikuyu. Britain, Germany, and France all had a hand in colonizing the area. The Imperial British East Africa Company had a dominating hand in these efforts beginning in the 1880s. In 1894, the British government declared the area the East Africa Protectorate. In the 1890s, British military forces were employed to quell resistance to European rule by African tribes. A railway, built between 1895 and 1903 was a key factor in encouraging European settlement and cultivation of the East Africa Protectorate in the early 1900s. During this time, members of the native African tribes were restricted to reservations and...

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